Neptune Strike 23-2 (NEST 23-2) is a multi-domain vigilance activity, an unscripted maritime exercise, that hones NATO’s ability to integrate maritime capabilities including carrier strike groups to support Allied defence. Neptune Strike has been a multiyear effort focused on harmonizing NATO planning teams to transfer command and control of Allied naval and amphibious forces to Strike force NATO, to provide assurance, deterrence, and collective defence for the Alliance. Each iteration of the Neptune series has increased in complexity while also increasing NATO’s ability to seamlessly integrate Allied assets.
As in previous editions of Neptune Strike, including NEST 23.1 in February 2023, NEST 23.2 will involve the transfer of authority (TOA) of assigned national forces to STRIKFORNATO and NATO command and control. Allied forces will execute a variety of evolutions in support of enhanced vigilance activity objectives throughout European airspace, waterways, and territory. NEST 23.2 continues the natural evolution of NATO’s ability to command and control forces across Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility.
During NEST 23.2, the world’s largest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), will come under NATO command for the second time in two months. The ship and its associated strike group reported to STRIKFORNATO while sailing in the Norwegian Sea in early June. In addition to Gerald R. Ford, multiple Allied units, including the Italian Navy’s aircraft carrier ITS Garibaldi (C551) and Allied ships, aircraft and land units, will join the activity, reinforcing the interchangeability of Allied Forces and the agility of NATO command and control structures.
NEST 23-2 is a visible demonstration of NATO’s ability to cooperate and to integrate effectively—proof of the strong cohesion and trust between North American and European Allies. The enhanced vigilance activity constitutes a tangible, transparent display of advanced capabilities in all-domain operations and the defensive commitment of the NATO Alliance. Military exercises enhance Alliance security by maintaining NATO’s high level of readiness to meet any threat, and if necessary defend every inch of NATO territory. NATO Allies take every opportunity to train together and refine tactics, techniques, and procedures for forces to work together effectively, demonstrating Alliance cohesion.